Blogging is here to stay, and I think most folks can have a good blog about whatever, as long as they’re passionate about the topic, knowledgeable and can spell. I’ve been blogging for over ten years and I’m a serial blogger, running multiple ones that are pretty decent. I’m also a social media strategist and I love teaching folks about how to start blogging and master it.
I’ve decided to give you all a little Blogging 101 workshop and I hope it helps you sort through this topsy turvy eWorld.
So you’ve decided you want to blog. What now? Well AFTER you decide on what the topic and title of your new eCrib will be, you have much to figure out.
Deciding on a Blogging Platform
You’ve got to pick the platform (website) to use for your blog. The 2 leading ones are WordPress and Blogger (blogspot.com), but Tumblr just became more popular. What’s the difference in the three? Well there’s a lot.
NEVER USE WIX OR WEEBLY! I will be back another time to tell you the reasons why.
Tumblr is a relatively new (compared to the other two) platform that is basically like “Blog Out of a Box.” It feels LESS like a blog but it’s MORE than tweeting. It’s an awesome platform for visual blogs, or just the sharing of images.
Blogging on Tumblr is SUPER easy. The platform formats posts for you automatically, and knows what you want to do because the dashboard lays out your options clearly. You can post TEXT, PHOTO, AUDIO, VIDEO, QUOTES, or CHATS with one click and Tumblr makes it look all pretty and cute.
Tumblr is a chill spot, and it’s low pressure with low expectations. There are many themes to pick from to use and you can change them as often as you feel. Tumblr’s great for those who lack an attention span (so it skews young). It also makes it easy for blogs that are community-driven. Blogs that thrive on submissions from others are great for Tumblr. It’s also a great spot for creatives to show off their work. Tumblr’s great for your visual portfolio.
What it’s not great for is ad integration. Or solid sidebars. It’s a very fluid platform so it poses a challenge sometimes for those who want to start making money off it, because the ease of adding ads greatly depends on what layout or theme you go for with your Tumblr blog. It’s not impossible to do if your Tumblr blog doesn’t have a sidebar, but you’d need to tweak the theme’s code, which can be difficult if you don’t know html or CSS.
Also, Tumblr doesn’t play well with Google. It isn’t search engine optimized at all so you gotta know that a blog you have there won’t rank well.
Tumblr’s fun though. It’s more playful than professional. BUT one blogger has one of THE most professional blogs around and it’s a Tumblr. Jessica of What I Wore gets props. With everything, there’s an exception to the rule. She is it.
Summary: Use Tumblr if you have a blog that is heavily crowd-sourced and very visual. Also, if you want something low pressure, free and super easy to start.
Blogger (aka BlogSpot)
Blogger is a Google-run platform that is pretty easy to setup and start using. It’s a good space for beginner bloggers because even if you have NO idea about code or html or anything, you can pretty much set up your blog yourself with no outside help. When you sign up, it walks you through the process. Plus, it’s free. Google holds all your files so you don’t need a host.
For newbies who just want to get acquainted to blogging and writing, it’s a good platform. For people who just want lowkey eSpaces for personal blogging and nothing too serious, I say Blogger works well for them too.
However, Blogger sites don’t always look really professional. The themes that are readily available usually look very similar to other themes and it makes it hard to differentiate your blog from someone else’s.
Also, Blogspot bloggers have to agree to Google’s Terms of Services. This isn’t a huge deal, apart from the horror stories I’ve heard where Google deleted blogs WITHOUT notice when they felt that the bloggers violated those terms. It’s the risk you run for being on the FREE platform. Their house, their rules.
Summary: Use Blogger if you want something easy to start and you want to get your feet wet and try out this whole blogging thing with little financial risk (since it’s free). I consider it a starter blog.
WordPress powers 20% of the internet, and for good reason.
There are 2 versions of WordPress: .org and .com. The .com version is the version where your files will be hosted by WordPress.com. It’s not much more complicated than Blogger, and its kind of limiting in what you can do in terms of customization. Because: FREE!
When I say “WordPress,” in following instances, I will be referring to the .org version.
WordPress is really the best platform out there for most blogs. The technology allows it to be super customizable and there are so many themes available for it.
Unlike the other two platforms, WordPress’ capabilities are almost limitless because of the ability to add plugins. Plugins are add-ons that you can install on your WordPress site that add extra functionality. There are thousands (5 Plugins Every WordPress Blog Should Have). Plugins do everything from automatically tweeting new posts to managing your ads, to making your site sing (if you want it to, which I don’t recommend).
BUT, WordPress sites can be awesome without hella plugins because developers have been coding themes and templates to do everything. Long story short: Wordpress is THE BEES KNEES in my book, if you want to be a serious blogger.
However, WordPress isn’t FREE. Well, the software of WordPress is but if you need to run your site on it, you need to get a host, which controls the server that holds all your files and pictures. This will cost you anywhere from $3-$12 a month (for sites without hundreds of thousands of hits a month), depending on the host you go with. I recommend MediaTemple (I use them for all my sites, and that’s an affiliate link, btw).
Also, if you aren’t familiar with code, or aren’t that techie, WordPress can be overwhelming AT FIRST, especially if you try to set up your site yourself. A good web designer can be the difference between you blogging smoothly with no headaches OR you wanting to bang your head against a wall repeatedly. My advise: let someone set up your WordPress site and get them to train you on it. There are great designers out there, like Huny. Or Krystle Rowry. Or you can always look at the bottom of WordPress sites you like and see who designed them.
WordPress can seem complicated and isn’t free, but if you want to be a serious or professional blogger, the learning curve and the money is worth it.
Summary: Use WordPress if you’re serious about blogging and want to grow it beyond just a hobby.
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